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BOOK REVIEW: 'Alex and Eliza' by Melissa de la Cruz, or how to blatantly (and badly) make money out of Hamilton: An American Musical

‘Alex and Eliza,’ or how to blatantly (and badly) make money out of Hamilton

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‘Alex and Eliza,’ or how to blatantly (and badly) make money out of HamiltonAlex and Eliza
zero-starsWritten by Melissa de la Cruz
Published by G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers
Published on April 11th 2017
Genres: Historical fiction
Pages: 368
Buy on Amazonon Book Depositoryor on Barnes & Noble

Their romance shaped a nation. The rest was history.

1777. Albany, New York.

As battle cries of the American Revolution echo in the distance, servants flutter about preparing for one of New York society’s biggest events: the Schuylers’ grand ball. Descended from two of the oldest and most distinguished bloodlines in New York, the Schuylers are proud to be one of their fledgling country’s founding families, and even prouder still of their three daughters—Angelica, with her razor-sharp wit; Peggy, with her dazzling looks; and Eliza, whose beauty and charm rival that of both her sisters, though she’d rather be aiding the colonists’ cause than dressing up for some silly ball.

Still, she can barely contain her excitement when she hears of the arrival of one Alexander Hamilton, a mysterious, rakish young colonel and General George Washington’s right-hand man. Though Alex has arrived as the bearer of bad news for the Schuylers, he can’t believe his luck—as an orphan, and a bastard one at that—to be in such esteemed company. And when Alex and Eliza meet that fateful night, so begins an epic love story that would forever change the course of American history.

Have you ever seen something that you know was only created to use something else’s fame to make easy money? Because that’s exactly what Melissa de la Cruz’s Alex and Eliza is all about.

I love Hamilton like almost everyone else on this planet, even if I will shamefully admit that it took me a year and a half after the buzz for me to listen to the cast recording. I will also admit that I know and care very little about American history, and that I forgot everything I learnt during my undergrad lectures. But I do know a thing or two about the trashiest bisexual disaster in the history of ever and. Let me tell you. No.

Alex and Eliza is a blatantly whitewashing of history just to make its main character look good. He was in the slave trade? Oh but he was feeling so terrible about it! He didn’t have a choice! It was only a job! Barf noises. Not to mention that, you know, all the Founding Fathers were pretty much against giving right to women, but suddenly Alex is this big advocate of feminism who loves it when women are opinionated and loud about it. Barf noises, take two. Because what worked for Hamilton, a take on white history as told by modern artists of colour, only works because, you know, they are artists of colour. Take that away and keep the real white-skinned redheaded Alexander Hamilton in his real historical context? Nah, fam.

BOOK REVIEW: 'Alex and Eliza' by Melissa de la Cruz, or how to blatantly (and badly) make money out of Hamilton: An American MusicalAll this faux-minist is made even worse in the second act of the book. (Massive spoilers ahead, so be warned.) When Alex understand that he is too poor and too nobody to marry a Schuyler, another love interest drops out of the sky and into Eliza’s lap, because of course he does. Not only is this dude the most infuriatingly annoying Romantic False Lead TM I have ever had the displeasure to see in my life, but it takes a turn for worse really quickly. How anyone could write strong, opinionated women and then decide that said main female character would be violently assaulted and almost raped by some dude, only to have her love interest jump in at the last moment to save the day, is BEYOND ME ON SO MANY LEVELS. Like, are we still in 2017? Or did we jump back to a time where rape-as-plot wasn’t frowned upon? What even am I reading? Who decided it was okay to publish this? What? Even?

This book was just a hot mess from beginning to end, and that’s without touching on the historical inaccuracy of some fact, or the romanticisation of others. Oh look how cute it is that Alex wants his own battalion because he wants a nice and proper future for Eliza and him, and not just because the guy was obsessed with making a name for himself all his life. What a good bro John Laurens is, helping Alex woo his belle instead of, you know, being gay as fuck and having Alex send him letters of reassurance because he will never love anyone as much as he loves Laurens. (Just dudes being bros.) How utterly adorable that Alex can just disappear from Washington’s side for a full week to ask Eliza’s hand to his future in-laws, and get away with a slap on the hand instead of, I don’t know, being courtmartialed to hell and back.

Also, he cheated on Eliza. I can’t take seriously a book that pretends it’s true love, when we all know for a fact that the dude is garbage and cheated on his wife and that she deserved better than this. Sorry, not sorry.

In the end, and as is shamelessly stated in the Acknowledgements page, Alex and Eliza was written because of Hamilton and the only reason (probably) it was published was because they knew it would make money thanks to Hamilton‘s fame. You only have to take a look at the Goodreads reviews to know it’s true. It even uses some lines from the musical, because why the hell not at this point, who even cares! But ultimately the book is a hot mess of historical inaccuracy, of romanticised history, and harmful tropes against women. This book took away two weeks of my life, and I want Amy Dunne the hell out of it for wasting my time.

So, ‘Alex and Eliza,’ did you read it and what did you think?

How accurate should historical fiction be?

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